Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ann S. Birkelbach

Ann S. Birkelbach

Ann S. Birkelbach

Assistant Director

Ann serves as Assistant Director for the Center and has managed the academic activities and operations since the Center's founding in 2010. She also served two years as Program Coordinator for the College's new graduate program in Middle East & Islamic Studies from 2013-15. Prior to George Mason, Ann worked in various administrative roles in the private sector and in higher education, including Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Ann has developed and taught courses on Religion & Art and Islamic Art at Georgetown University, University of Mary Washington and George Mason University. She has also worked and consulted in the curatorial, education and public programming departments at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana University Art Museum and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Her publications include her master's thesis, "The Dawn of a Sacred Art: Recent Research on the Artistic Development of Qur'anic Calligraphy and Ornamentation in Early Islam". More recently, she's written an article for the Center's online publication, Maydan, "We Are All Americans: Traditional, Eclectic and Contemporary Works of Islamic Art in Leesburg", www.themaydan.com.

Born in Brussels Belgium and exposed to different cultures at an early age, Ann's family spent eleven years overseas. Ann has traveled widely in the US, visited Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and studied French, German, Arabic and Persian.

Ann received dual masters' degrees in Near Eastern Languages & Cultures and Art History from Indiana University at Bloomington and a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She completed professional education certificates in fundraising, grant proposals and non-profit management from Indiana University.

Ann is married and has one daughter and lives in Fairfax. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in the Shenandoah, visiting museums and attending cultural events in the DC area.